Friday, March 30, 2012

Nothing is Mahala

So hubby and I went for a nice walk. We were having a nice time, the weather was cool and fresh, we were laughing and all was good. Then some young guy stops to tell us of a new company and how they’re running this promotion and giving away free prizes and then handed us a scratch ticket. We won a R50 meal gift card. And he said cuz we look like such a nice couple (and it was clearly a slow day) we get another scratch ticket. It was 3 palm trees in a row and he was all shocked cuz that’s the grand prize and there are only 5 of those being given away. Hubby was excited, I stood there recalling all the times I’ve “won” a grand prize trip and was wondering what the catch was (what did we have to buy, endure, or pay to claim this grand prize trip). He said to claim our prize we just need to hear about their new business in an hour presentation. I immediately asked if it was a timeshare presentation. He said, not quite but more on timeshare points plan or something like that. We walked over to their swanky little office amongst the pricey restaurants so I was calmed that it couldn’t be a “give us your bank details” scam (that's more likely to be via text), but more of a forced selling of timeshare type presentation. I endured one of those in Florida for $100. So due to that former experience, I thought we’ll at least get that meal gift voucher out of it. I knew the grand prize trip wasn’t going to turn into anything more than a let down so I wasn’t even pumped about that “win” to begin with.

Once inside, they offered us something to drink and I said I’d take the orange juice and hit the loo cuz preggy belly wasn’t gonna make it thru an hour yapping without emptying the shrinking bladder. Came back and hubby was filling out a form, you know the kind-name, phone, email to harass you with, what do you do for work and your income bracket. I thought I was being clever by circling the lowest bracket to avoid a heavy sales pitch. Not that I would cave to a heavy sales pitch, but that I wasn’t interested in spending my morning as such. The lady was hovering as we filled out the form and as soon as she saw me circle the lowest bracket she said we needn’t bother to complete the rest of the form and she’ll take it from there. Obviously, she saw that a sale won’t be made with us today based on a judgement of our perceived income level. I forgot a tidbit of info. On my way to the loo, I saw one sales consultant chatting with a nicely dressed couple doing his sales pitch bit. Anyways, she came back and said all the sales consultants were busy (funny as I only saw one guy pitching while the others were milling about) but she’ll give us our “prize” before we go. She handed us our “grand prize trip” voucher which she explained was just hotel accommodation in either Mauritius, Spain or the Canary Islands (we’d still need to cough up the change for the flight and the meal option whether we wanted it or not said the fine print on the back). She also said we have 30 days to register our voucher and the registration is drum roll please R89 per person. So typical of the winning grand prize trips I’ve experienced in the past. She also said we have a year to redeem the voucher and if we don’t then the R89 will be refunded. She also pointed out that we have to reference the voucher number on top which was number 12 thousand something. Clearly, not only 5 of these were being given away. But honestly, my hopes not dashed there cuz I expected much less plus I've been around long enough to know what is and what isn't too good to be true. Side note-did you know that even when you win on a true game show (Price is Right, Who Wants to be a Millionaire, etc), you still have to reach into your pockets for Mr taxman who is standing right there beside your prize? There's ALWAYS T&C's in any prize giveaway. Anyways. Then I asked the whereabouts of our meal gift voucher. She said they gave away the last one yesterday. O how convenient. So either, they weren’t giving any away or she deemed us not good enough to have that R50 gift voucher to dine at one of these fine restaurants. I hate that. I hate being judged like that. Really pisses me off. Even in Florida when we didn’t buy a dang thing from their presentation, they still gave us our $100. Nothing is mahala. Mahala means free.
Ps, I didn’t even get that free glass of orange juice they offered me.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Poor Little Will Power

I’m in a phase where pregnancy cravings are getting harsh. I’m not craving weird combos or anything just very specific foods in a most serious manner. The craving changes every few days. After the dreaded 1st trimester of all day nausea (why didn’t I lose weight there????) my cravings were wonderful things like purple grapes and carrots. But now, it’s high calorie foods! It’s stressing me out cuz I don’t wanna be fat again! It’s such a struggle to lose weight for me. The last time that I had the most success was when I scrutinized every calorie to a max of 1700 a day in my mouth along with a 10km walk mon-thurs plus weight training and yoga. I walked to work and it was 5km one way. The walking wasn’t tough, it was a very pretty route thru very expensive mansion type neighborhoods with giant tree lined streets. The calorie control was very hard. The counting was relentless. I don’t like math. And I confess, I like food. It’s delicious. I like sophisticated foods too. Those are usually very high in calories with the butters and creams used. I also like healthy foods so it’s not like I only eat beef bourginon. I love salads and raw food pizza etc. Anyways. 1700 a day isn’t much to divvy amongst the day’s meals. I aimed for 400cal at breakfast, lunch and dinner plus 3 150cal snacks (doesn’t equal an exact 1700 but gave room if I went over a few cals at lunch or dinner). It was tough but I was dedicated and succeeded a fair amount. Not as much as I would have liked to but I was contempt with what I lost in the given time.

During weeks 15-17, I was experiencing appetite suppression from all that HCG (like that diet rage going on now) and was a little excited! Hey, if we keep this up, I’ll lose a little during pregnancy.

But now, I’m gaining. Of course, it isn’t all fat. There is extra blood and fluids plus of course the baby. But according to my weight at the start of pregnancy, I have a smaller amount of weight allowance to gain. At 19.5 weeks, I’m 1.5kg heavier than I should be. That’s almost 4 pounds extra. It would take me about a month and a bit to lose that on my rigorous weight loss routine of 1700cal a day along with a lot of intense exercise. Oooo, sigh. I can’t even bare the thought of the struggle ahead of me after this precious bundle of joy comes out. I’m getting older. It’s harder to lose. Would you believe I attempted to diet last week? I think my plan lasted 2 meals, then I slipped. You just don’t understand the severity of cravings until you are pregnant. It’s not even about will power. My poor little will power is cowering in a corner shaking in fear from the pregnancy craving voice yelling: SALT AND VINEGAR CHIPS!! CHEESECAKE!! I try to fool the voice and have some cucumber slices with a little salt and vinegar or a banana with a tbsp. of peanut butter and a glass of skim milk…that just angers it! It gets louder. My poor little will power is now rocking itself back and forth, tears streaming down it’s face repeating ‘I can’t do it, that pregnancy craving voice is too loud and scary for me.’ Poor thing is gonna need therapy after the baby comes.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

3 more items off my list

#11. Replant my african violet into a bigger pot
Went to Stodels to get my bigger pot and potting soil. I also redeeming my free monthly gift and ta da, it was a plant! It’s usually some kind of bag of fertilizer or peat moss or something. This plant is actually a tree that will grow between 2m-4m high. Hopefully it’ll last for a year or so in this bigger pot until we can get a home with a garden.  I had to gather some rocks for the bottom of the pots (drainage) and felt sheepish about picking them up in the street. O well, done.

#19. Prepare a week’s worth of meals in one day so I don’t have to cook for a whole week
Did this last Saturday within a 3 hour period! I made two meatloaves out of one packet of ostrich mince/ground meat, chicken naranja (orange juice, soy sauce, ginger, garlic, lemon juice, sesame seeds), chicken fajita bake (peppers, onion, chicken, spiced tomato sauce…cheese to be added on day of baking), sloppy joes from ostrich mince. Two days were meatless days which I threw a couple potatoes in the oven and chopped up a quick greek salad. I forgot how much I enjoy a baked potato from time to time. Easy and satisfying. And we were at a friend’s house for a bbq one eve. So technically, due to the baked potato nights (2) and dinner at friends we still have 2 meals in the freezer for this coming week! Bonus. This cooking for the week, into the freezer business, is awesome. I don’t think I can look back now. Doing it again for this week. It doesn’t take long-I mean 3 hours in total including prep and clean up is pretty smashing, we only grocery shopped once that week so our budget was in tact, and the stove/oven had a break as did I, plus the minimized load of dishes in the sink were nice. It’ll make dinner time easy for when baby comes.
#44. Do the 45 min bird walk on intaka island in century city
This is a little bird sanctuary (16 hectares) of wetland habitat in the midst of a thriving urban environment. My husband, who’d lived here for 10 years didn’t realize this place was there. He’d heard of Intaka Island, but thought it was like Woodbridge Island-houses and golf course. I’d seen the sign a couple times when driving to or from Century City/Canal Shopping area and thought it was like an industrial area as they tend to give nature sounding names to industrial areas here (Montague Gardens, Paardeneiland- pronounced Parden Island, etc). But when I was doing up my list, I looked up free things to do in the Cape and saw a write up on this place. It’s a nice little bird sanctuary. I thought of Laura and how she’d come with eagerness and her fancy Canon to capture the birds. Then she might enter the wildlife photo competition that takes place at HR Macmillan Space Center. We went to that one year with Heather (Heather also gave me her bird sanctuary membership card when she moved. Heather is a nice lady who is lotso fun!). I remember that there was this one lady won all the categories. Can’t remember her name, but in winter 2008, we referred to her whenever we saw a bird in a sanctuary type area while taking a photo or seeing a photo of wildlife. I remember not liking her cuz she won all the categories. That’s just not right. You can’t win best overall photo plus all the other categories. My fav part was sitting in the bigger bird viewing shack thingy and feeling like we were on a boat amongst the various birds. One of my husband’s first comment in the sanctuary was “this would be a great place to shoot an action movie.” Really honey? The serenity of birds makes you think action movie? I don’t think he took into account the fact that the area is WETlands. Not so friendly with the walking and running aspect of action. But I think he was just focusing on the many tall reeds and maybe thought Rambo or Vietnam war or something. I can’t say for sure as we didn’t get into it.

I am loving checking things off my list. It’s fun! I’m working on 2 items that take a few days/weeks to accomplish: hair and makeup every Sunday for a month & reading the 1st book of a popular series. I got Twilight from the library today. I know my friends suggested Harry Potter over Twilight but the library didn’t have the 1st Harry, so vampires it is. Besides, I followed the plot in the Twilight movie series much better than the first few Potter movies. Near the end of the movie that came out in 2009, I turned to Laura to ask who Voldermort is. I mean that right there says how much I got out of the movies! Laura was quite angry at my question. You other Potter fans might also be angry right now after reading that confession. It is what it is. My talent does not lie in following fictional series.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Item 39 and 82, booyah, done baby!

#39 Check out hout bay organic market (thurs mornings 41 victoria rd) REPLACED WITH prepare 72 hour kit

After re-reading my list, I decided I didn't really want to go to the organic market in Hout Bay. It was just an item I listed near the end when I was running out of goals to accomplish. But yesterday morning, I woke up to a voice saying that I'm not prepared in the event of an emergency. I have no emergency bag packed ready to go in case I need to evacuate quickly. You can't really even grab things together during an emergency as you are not thinking clearly. So, I took the bulk of the morning and assembled 2 kits. One for me, one for husband. I used the list from our church website. Our kits are not 100% in that there is no shovel nor axe, but all the basics are there to get us through. I'm going to add to the food portion I set aside yesterday as I know I won't be happy on canned foods and nuts alone. I'm going grocery shopping after this blog, then I can add some yummies to our kits. The contents are in nice sealed big ziploc bags ready for evacuation.

#82 Attend a community/city event/festival

This was an improptu moment. When I woke up this morning, I had no plans of taking part in a community event today. Also, when I wrote up this list, I had something much different in mind like a carnival or festival. So, I went for a walk along beachfront as the weather was reminiscent of Tofino. I went down to the beach and sat and watched the surfers. I saw alot of people with yellow bags picking up garbage on the beach. I looked over and saw a bunch of garbage where I was sitting. Then I thought, why not take part in this community event? I wasn't wearing the right clothes or shoes for beach combing, but at least the blasted sun isn't burning hot today.

I walked over and got my yellow garbage bag and blue glove and set off along the dune part of the beach. Garbage collects nicely in there amongst the low lying beach foliage. At first, I was so excited and was raring to fill my huge bag. But after about 25mins of sifting teeny pieces of styromfoam, tissue and cigarette butts, the drab reality of my bag being full before I tire was drifting into the ocean. I combed for quite a distance, bending over ever few seconds to pick up something small. I got really excited when I found a big crumpled Nando's takeaway bag. I contemplated walking over to the restaurant and asking if they had any garbage for me to take. But that would be cheating and perhaps a bit weird. So I continued. Of course that hot ball of gas was shining bright and causing me to sweat and drain my energy.

After about 50mins of intense combing, I threw in the perverbial towel. I took my 1/6th filled bag to the collection area, tied it up, emptied a gallon of sand from my runners, wiped the sweat off my face, entered the draw for a free surf/kite board and walked home tired yet satisfied. Too bad I didn't have my garbage bag on the way home cuz there was a treasure trove of crap littering the streets!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Item #76 Completed :)

#76 Do 3 tourist things that I haven’t done yet
The following 3 touristy things were yesterday afternoon. 2 of the 3 were free. I like free. Free is rare on this continent so I relish in free when the opportunity presents itself J
1st stop was the Afrogem factory and showroom. I opted for the free tour. I learned stuff about jewellery making too. The first room showcases gems in the raw. I must say, they had a huge diamond chunk but it looked like a big chunk of worthless glass. From now on, when in the streets and I come across a chunk of glass (that obviously isn’t from a broken beer bottle), I think I’ll pick it up and ask at the jewellers if it’s diamond. But I digress. Then upstairs I saw people working on jewel making starting with the cutting of the stone.
For the ring portions, they make a plastic mould that looks like a tree. Then they pour plaster over it. Once that hardens, they pour the melted gold into the tree moulds. Then they cut off the rings and steam clean any white bits off.

Then they set the stones if it’s not a simple band type ring. See the pretty topaz, the drawing/design of it is under.

This is a yellowish diamond (I can’t remember but I think it’s a poor clarity when it’s more yellow) about to be set in a ring.

Then they're finished off with a polish.
I got a free gift bag of semi-precious stones J One is clearly rose quartz, the other I’m sure is Amethyst and the rest, not sure.

Next stop was the National Library of South Africa. I had to check my bag with security. The guy asked if I spoke Portuguese. Do I look Portuguese, I thought? Is my Canadian accent confusing him? When I said no, he then said I must only speak Zulu and Xhosa. Sorry man, don’t speak that either but I speak French. To which he said Bonjour, comment ca va? Then I asked if he spoke Hungarian. No? How bout Swahili? That was the end of our wise guy conversation. This library is not a lending institution. You must read the collections on campus. Well, that’s a big undertaking to sit down and read a novel in one day. So I picked a fun African kids book called the Giraffe with a Knot in his Neck. There were about 7 choices of which language to read this book. Well after our convo about languages, I choose the English and another language which I think was Zulu. But I could be wrong, it may have been Tswana or Sesuthu or something. But I’m pretty sure it was Zulu. I read the English page first, then the African language page next. Some words I could figure out which were which. But some sentences had either many extra words or a few very long words. While reading, I had a very strong desire for some children’s books in Kirundi or Swahili for my baby and I to learn. Not gonna lie. African languages are tough. Example- ndagukunda or ntiranyibagira. Long words usually with a couple consonants placed together. But how cool to learn one of them well. So far, Swahili is the easiest for me. But my mother-in-law speaks Kirundi so that’s where my focus should be.
Now, you can’t take photos inside so here’s a brochure pic and an outside shot.

Stop number 3 was the Iziko Slave Lodge. This was not free, but not expensive. I will note that all the Iziko museums are free on commemorative holidays. There are 7 of these throughout the year plus Heritage Week. So I will hit the National Gallery during a commemorative holiday (not to be confused with a public holiday like Easter or Christmas cuz those days are not on the list of free days).
I’ve walked by the Slave Lodge many a times on my way to the Company Gardens (free and pretty). Didn’t notice it much until recently. Don’t even recall ever seeing anyone go inside or come out for that matter. I, perhaps foolishly, asked the lady if it’s worth it to see the exhibit. I will say, when she hesitated an answer, I wondered if I should slowly back out and go to Nando’s for lunch instead. But after she reluctantly said yes, I thought, o what the heck I’m here anyways and I might learn something.
It started out a bit slow with black and white photos of tent camps and malnourished children along the walls of a couple small rooms. But I never back out of something at first impressions. I will say the photos were well done and some even tugged at my heart strings but not quite what I was expecting of a museum. Mind you, after that weird exhibit in one of the museums in Budapest, it wouldn’t have shocked me if that was the bulk of the slave lodge.
Then I ventured upstairs. Surprisingly, into an ancient Egypt exhibit. Were those 3 small rooms the end of the slave portion of the lodge? Onto other museum type things I guess. O, I like Egyptian artifacts and such. I was surprised at how much I remembered about the civilizations’ ways from a former exhibit I saw in Budapest (I saw a few museums there). Then into a room about an Italian movie made about the Zulu tribe in (ooo, I’m bad with dates) I think it said 1927? It was an interesting room. It had displays and photos about the making of this movie. There was a photo of a young Zulu man and the write up said he was wearing stuff given to him by his girlfriends. The young men may have many girlfriends but they can only marry one at a time. My focus went on the “at a time.” So they can marry all their girlfriends but not all at once. Well, of course. Can you imagine more than 1 bride at a ceremony? The best part of this room was the actual movie was playing on two plasma screens. I watched a bit. The movie is called Silvia Zulu (again, I may have got that name wrong. There’s no maps, I didn’t write anything down and I’m pregnant! My memory consists of take vitamins and what not to eat so get off my back and go to the museum to find out details yourself). Anyways. Then the next room was really old toys. The cool toy was this big Noah’s Ark with many animals walking two by two from the boat. It came from Germany. That I remember. Then a room of antique instruments. Then down a hall of old accessories. Then to another room of silverware. Then a room of weaponery. Then the last room upstairs had pottery. Very unusual collection of slave lodge type things, no?
Back downstairs on the other side, I saw the slave lodge slavery related museum collection. One room was quite creepy and had a dark feeling. There was also a courtyard to walk around in. Again, no photos allowed except in the courtyard and the entrance. So here you go. I say, it’s worth the check out but if you’re feeling cheap (like I usually am) go on a commemorative day.

Items 6, 9, and 90 Completed

#6- Have a change jar towards our Disney 2022 savings fund

As you can see, I made a change holder out of an old bottle. Not only do I recycle, I also re-use (and I reduce).

Note the painted canvas in the background-my daddy painted that so it's extra special to me and has more value than a Monet.

According to today’s prices…

-air Cape to Paris R6000 per person (oldest child will be 9, second will be 6 or 7 who knows if there’ll be more? Do airlines charge full fare for 6 year olds? I’m sure they do for 9 year olds) at 3.5 people is R21,000

-4 night stay including room at Sequoia Lodge, park tickets and breakfast is R9285 (kids under 12 stay and play for free and one night and one day is free)

…Disney portion of Euro family vacay will cost R30,285 plus lunch and dinner and airport transfer. Now in all fairness, the air from Cape is more accountable for our family visit to Budapest and Sweden. So perhaps, I’d be better to find the fare of air from Stockholm/Budapest to Paris. Or even more entertaining, the train! So if we include the air, I’d need to put R252 a month in our Disney jar otherwise, if it’s just the actual Disney portion of the trip, I’d need to put R77 a month in our Disney jar, which is roughly $10. I like that figure!!

#9 Take all glass bottles to be refunded and put proceeds into either Disney or baby savings
All those bottles were returned at our corner 7 11 and I promptly put the returned deposit into the Disney jar.

#90 Go to the dentist for check up and cleaning before week 26 of this pregnancy
I made my apt for next week and that will be the extent of the blogging I’ll do on this subject other than it’s a perk of my medical aid- 2 free cleanings a year and up to 3 fillings a day (how many teeth does he think I have that 3 a day need to be filled?) I’ll just stick with the cleanings for now thanks.